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How Do Airbnb Payments Work? Payments from a Guest and Host Perspective


How Do Airbnb Payments Work

When I first started thinking about hosting an Airbnb, I wondered how the payment process works.  I was unsure if I would have to process payments or if Airbnb would handle this for me. I also wanted to make sure of when and how I would get paid for my bookings.  I did some research to find out exactly how Airbnb payments work.

Airbnb collects all payments at the time a guest submits a reservation request.  In this way, the host knows that the funding is there for the property to be booked.  The funds are released to the host approximately 24 hours after the designated check-in time for each booking.  There are several modes of payment a host may choose from. Airbnb also takes care of collecting security deposit money.

There is no reason that the host should ever have to process payments.  Hosts should never consent to accept payments through any means other than booking through Airbnb.  This takes a lot of work and hassle out of the process as well as protecting the host’s financial interest and the guest’s financial information.



How and When Airbnb Payments are Initiated

Guests must submit payment information at the time that they submit a request for a reservation.  Payments will be drafted when the host accepts the guest’s reservation. At this time, the amount for the entirety of the stay is charged to the card the guest has put on file with Airbnb.  Airbnb holds this amount until 24 hours after the expected check-in time before paying the host.

This is true no matter how far in advance the property is booked.  If the property is booked only days ahead of time, the payment is held by Airbnb until 24 hours after check-in.  The same goes for reservations made months in advance. If a guest’s reservation request goes unanswered, they can book with another host, and their card will not be charged for the first reservation.

If a guest is booking for over 28 days at a time, the first month is deducted at the time the reservation is confirmed.  This is considered a down payment.  After that, the guest’s card on file will be billed monthly for their extended stay.

Airbnb Payment Methods for Guests

Airbnb accepts Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Discover, and JCB.  Debit cards that can be run as credit cards may also be used.  Other specific payment options may be available depending on the area in which the guest is booking an Airbnb property.  The payment options available to a guest will show up on the checkout page.

How Hosts Receive their Payments

At approximately 24 hours after check-in, Airbnb releases the payment to the host’s account or pays them according to their preferred payment method.  Airbnb holds the money until this time so that both the host and the guest have time to make sure that things are going to suit each of them.  The guest has time to evaluate the property and the host has time to see that the guest is not creating any problems.

When it comes time for the host to get paid, there are a variety of payment options he can choose from.  The time it takes for funds to show up in a host’s account will depend on the mode of payment they have chosen.  Standard modes of payment include direct deposit, a bank transfer, PayPal, Western Union, or a Payoneer prepaid debit card.

Security Deposit Payments on Airbnb

Airbnb decides on security deposit amounts for some properties.  If a security deposit is required for a stay at a certain property, prospective guests will be able to see the amount required before booking.  In the case of a security deposit requirement, there is a hold placed on the account that has been chosen for payment in the amount of the security deposit. 

The account will not be charged, but those funds will not be available for other purchases.  If there were no problems, then Airbnb releases the hold on the account and the funds are once again available to the cardholder 14 days after check-out.

If there are not enough funds available to cover the security deposit in the mode of payment the guest has entered into Airbnb, then the reservation can be canceled 36 hours before check-in.  This is a way for Airbnb to be sure that a guest has enough funds on hand to cover the security deposit. In this way, Airbnb makes sure that the security deposit is paid if the property is damaged.

If a reservation is in danger of being canceled for a lack of security deposit funds, Airbnb will send the guests a notification email.  Then the guest has 12 hours to enter another mode of payment before their reservation is canceled.  If valid card information is not provided within these 12 hours, Airbnb will refund the cost of the reservation to the card on file. 


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What is the Airbnb Service Fee?

The Airbnb service fee goes to support the platform and help Airbnb continue to render the services that it does to hosts and guests all over the world.  The service fee is typically less than 13% of the subtotal upon booking.  Airbnb collects this fee and adds it to the total at the time a guest submits a reservation request.  Those booking should anticipate this fee to be included.

Payment Refunds

There are times that a guest may be refunded if they need to cancel their stay.  If the guest cancels up to 48 hours ahead of time, the total cost of the booking will be refunded through Airbnb.  Cleaning fees associated with the booking will also be refunded. Airbnb will refund its service fee 3 times annually if the bookings are canceled at least 48 hours in advance.   


Rental Recon Tip: Neither guests nor hosts should cancel bookings unless it is necessary.  Canceled reservations make you appear less legitimate and less appealing when it comes to future bookings.


All refunds are issued through Airbnb.  This is not the responsibility of the host.  Hosts neither have to process payments or issue refunds.  Using Airbnb as a booking platform can save hassle, time, and money for the host.

Related Questions:

Can a Guest use Multiple Credit Cards to Pay When Booking an Airbnb? 

No.  Airbnb will not divide a guest’s payment between different credit or debit cards at the time of booking.  There is an option called “pay less upfront” that is available for certain bookings. If a guest chooses this option, he can pay the initial payment with one card and go back in and submit another card for the next payment.

Can PayPal be Used to Pay for Booking an Airbnb? 

The answer to this depends on the country you live in and the currency you use.  There are some areas in which PayPal is accepted as a mode of payment. If PayPal is an option for you, it will show up on the checkout page.  If you do not see PayPal listed as an option that means you will need to choose a different mode of payment.

What Should a Guest do if his Card is Being Declined? 

Airbnb is not privy to the reason a card is being declined, and they cannot provide this information to the person who is trying to book.  If your card is being declined, it is a good idea to make sure you have entered the numbers correctly. If that does not fix your problem, you should contact your bank or credit card issuer.

I'm an Airbnb Superhost sharing my Airbnb journey and tips that I've learned along the way.